Are we Americanising Indian kids?

By Diyaa in Experiences
Updated 11:19 IST May 25, 2019

Views » 742 | 7 min read


It was a lazy weekend and we had no out of the ordinary plans. We generally reserve the weekends for our kids and do stuff they like or they would want to. Since there was not much on the list that day, we thought of catching up on some masala bollywood movie. I knew by the reviews that it was good enough for the kids to watch. So we went for it and had a hilarious time. He loved it so much that, he even mentioned about it to his group of friends the next day. There it started, what I knew was going to pop up very soon, a storm of questions. I heard all sorts of statements like 'we still don't take them for movies’, 'how can you show them bolly movies?’, 'these aren't kiddy activities!’ and so on. I was constantly being judged for that two hours of entertainment I took my kid to. My point was simple. They enjoyed and had a wholesome laugh, what more could I have asked for. With just giving them an additional box of popcorn I too got my peace of time there.I felt like saying, ‘It's ok lady, if you don't prefer doing all of it but why judge another parent’! Our parents didn't think half as much as we do. We watched movies, we sang Hindi songs and danced to weirdest tunes and grew up just fine!


So you mean to say, it's justifiable today for an eight year old to hymn tunes of 'love the shape of your body’ and 'baby pull me closer’ but not watch something that will purely tickle his funny bones for a whole two hour! Why are we so partial towards our outlook? Why doesn't your hair stand on its end when you hear them sing the lyrics of these songs? What are they learning from it anyway at this very raw age? Do they have any idea of what the singer wants to do inside the sheet at the backseat of his car? I was really shocked when I heard my son sing such songs at a young age. It didn’t go well with my beliefs. I still preferred the two hour-harmless humor to a two minute-mind corrupting song.


Another thing that got my attention was that we get pressed by societal pressures effortlessly these days. There are thousands of activity classes opened up for them nowadays. Name it and they can learn it. But the question still remains, is your child really interested in the ten classes you have enrolled him for throughout the week? These kids are simply kept so busy that they have no time to breathe and play. First the schools take up most of their time and then returning to the homework is no less pressure on them. Besides school exams they have a wide choice of extra competitive exams to take up. It’s become a fashion. When one kid does it the other has to or he feels left out and more than that the parent feels that their child is less competent. The playgrounds have been replaced by benches today and the sport instruments by paper and pens. Activities are more mental than physical which not only tires them out but also reduces their physical strength. That’s why the number of allergies have gone up, for we are not exposing them to nature as much as they need to be. I feel when the question arises about their future; they will each pursue what they want to when they grow up and do that one thing they love so why decide for them now! Excelling in everything is not the only way to look at things. The whole pleasure of learning is lost in the process of standing out. Let’s accept average students as they are and put lesser pressures on them for proving themselves always to everyone.


I remember accompanying my cousin to get Kumon classes ten years back in the US of A and now I see this generation parents run for this new trend here in India. We have our roots laid strong in math, Vedic math came from here. The famous Indian monk taught how to calculate 3 digit multiplications in just five seconds. We are losing our methods and blindly following the foreign trends. We are ready to pay up a good amount for these when we can also help them with the worksheets at home.


I feel while we are all busy giving them the international standards of education, in their need to ape the West they are getting “Americanized”.


The television shows are in plenty today with the variety of choices around. The famous ones range from Peppa pig to Dora and Octonauts today. They are undoubtedly good shows I know but somewhere I miss showing my kids tele-shows we saw, like Vikram betal, Tenali Raman and Malgudi days. They were all life learning lessons with a lot of entertainment. There were moral based stories that bound us to our values and kept us grounded.


Do you remember reading Chacha Chaudhary, Champak and tinkle? These make me so nostalgic even while I am mentioning about them. These were some of our favorite past time activity. They made us wiser and filled us with joy. We could spend hours reading them. it saddens me how in the present day these smaller comic books are replaced by huge pages of Harry Potter or a lot of media. I-pads, i-phones, and laptops have changed the meaning of leisure for the kids of millennial.


Let’s talk about how the holiday scenes have also changed now to more exotic places. It’s trendy to visit Maldives and Disney and places like the famous European cities. I was so surprised when I heard one of my son’s friend say he only liked going abroad for holidays and loved travelling by flights which made it quite obvious too. Frankly, I miss showing the kids around in trains and travelling to places closer within our country. Because of our busy lives and time constraints we have also found it easier to travel by planes, even to places that are easily accessible by road and rails. Thanks to their school project on different Indian cities, my son asked me to show him around our country. It makes me happy when these kids show such interests. With them we can get a chance to revive our childhood.


Lastly I feel, we are also victims to the ‘Mc Donaldization’ of the world where tastes and preferences are rapidly evolving, some for the better and some for the worse. Donuts and waffles have taken over the kheers and gulab jamuns at the moment. Birthday parties are no more the simple pav bhaji and chaats we used to have but a huge affair of world cuisines. Be it Italian, Mexican or Chinese it's all there on a platter for the kids. They are so used to the fork and spoon that these kids barely know to use their hands. My son's snack box came back returned with the same sweet (mithai) I sent him with. When I asked him why he said there was no spoon and I couldn't eat without it. I mean for us, until we licked our fingers through it, it wasn't over for us. The fun of sitting on the floor and finishing your meals and pleasure you get by eating with your hands can’t be compared to the fork and knives! 


By the looks of their lifestyles and media exposure, I fear what the research says may be true, in a decade; India's urban youth will begin to face the same problems faced by young people in the West - obesity, depression. 2010 saw a number of cases across the country of depression-led suicide. While my Indian friends in US are busy teaching their kids Indian cultural values we are going the other way round. 


After all, what good is it for any nation to have economic growth and wealth creation on the cost of moral or ethical values? More than kids it's us as parents who have branded each phase of their lives. Won’t it be so much easier and joyful to give them a taste to our own principles?  When the roots are strong there is no fear in having a taste of other places and knowing their ethics too. 


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Kalamwali 27-May-2019 21:59

Very very well-said! I do admit I am guilty of a few of these things!

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